Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was first used as a diagnosis by veterans from the Vietnam War, but such symptoms have existed for much longer. The disorder has had many names, including battle fatigue, combat stress, shell shock, post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS). Post-traumatic stress disorder isn’t only associated with war-related scenarios however. Traumatic events such as natural disasters, abuse and accidents can also cause symptoms.
If you have PTSD, you may relive the traumatic event through flashbacks and nightmares. You also may feel isolated, guilty and sometimes irritable. Sleeping problems such as insomnia are also common. Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms are persistent and severe enough to impact your daily life and of those around you.
If you have PTSD, you may feel anxious, constantly alert to potential danger and you may find it difficult to relax. This is your body’s survival mechanism working overtime and is called Hyperarousal. This is characterised by the following symptoms – intense panic when reminded of the trauma, being easily upset, irritability and aggression, self-destructive behaviour or recklessness, inability to concentrate, sleeping problems.
Being reminded of the event that caused the trauma can trigger feelings of fear and anxiety. As a result of this, PTSD sufferers are more likely to avoid reminders. These include places, people or situations. Avoiding the topic of the traumatic event in conversation is also very common.
Sufferers will try to counteract the painful memories and feelings by emotional numbing which typically has a negative effect on communication with others. This will include becoming detached and isolated, being unable to express affection, turning to alcohol or drugs to avoid memories and giving up on hobbies and interests previously enjoyed.
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms can be difficult to manage. They can affect all aspects of life including health, relationships and general well-being. Many sufferers will develop physical ailments due to the high amounts of constant stress. These include stomach aches, diarrhoea, chest pains and dizziness. Other mental health issues including anxiety, depression and phobias can also emerge.
There are a number of PTSD treatment avenues to explore if you suffer with the condition. They aim to address both the physical and psychological symptoms of the condition. This helps you cope with the effects of the trauma.
Treatment is highly effective, but there isn’t a form of intervention that removes all memories of the traumatic event.